Jagr: It's a Team Game
PITTSBURGH, PA - Jaromir Jagr walked from the back of the Bruins' visiting team locker room at the CONSOL Energy Center, and into the main dressing room on Monday night. Reporters flooded.
The 41-year-old future Hall of Famer swaggered in wearing the B's specialized Army Rangers camouflage jacket, and his now signature Black & Gold winter tuque with "Stanley Cup Champions" around the brim. His "Wolverine" trimmed playoff beard, as his teammates refer to it, was looking more grizzled than ever.
He had just finished up a two-assist performance, setting up his linemates Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron for two important goals in a Game Two, 6-1, win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, to bring the series back to Boston with the Black & Gold holding the two-game upper hand.
Bergeron's goal came after Jagr's initial shot was blocked. All he had to do was put down his stick driving the goal; No. 68 found him with a perfect feed off the rebound for the one-timer. It was a 5-1 game 37 seconds into the third - and it put the Pens out of reach.
"I felt the same way," said the B's alternate captain, when asked if he felt Jagr had found another gear in the win. "He was really on his game. I just had to get open tonight and he was finding me and March. He made a huge play on that goal late in the first on the wall. It goes a long way, it's little details, but it goes a long way. I thought he was awesome for us today."
Marchand's goal came with just nine seconds left in the first. But more importantly, it came just 25 seconds after Penguins' center Brandon Sutter had made it a 3-1, two-goal game.
"I just took a hit. Marchy went out two-on-two, two-on-one. Marchy had confidence today about his shot," smiled Jagr. "He scored one on top shelf on the left side, so he tried the other side. He was a good shot."
It was nice to be able to contribute the way he did, but points haven't come easy this postseason for Jagr, who now has six assists in the B's 14 games.
"I stopped counting a long time ago," he jested. "I'd rather not score and be still playing, than be scoring and be home already on vacation. It's a team game."
"Sometimes you try everything and it doesn't go in. It's not the first time it happened to me. Maybe not that long, but it's happened. That's why you have to find some other way to help the team. I just don't want to be sitting."
Jagr's biggest asset had been showing through, though, with his ability to fit well into the B's cycle game and play his strong-on-puck game battling along the boards. And he's never looked more comfortable playing with Marchand and Bergeron.
His game that doesn't show up on the score sheet is the time and space he creates. When he was asked by a reporter following the game if he thought that was his most physical game as a Bruin, Jagr gave a quick response.
"That's the way the Boston Bruins play."
"We've got a lot of big guys on the team who can play physical, who can cycle the puck and be strong on the boards. I don't mind that at all. It was always my game, even when I scored more goals," he added.
"I don't mind to play on the boards. I like to play physical. I don't have to hit anybody, but I don't mind getting hit."
Of course, one of the hits he took led to Marchand's huge answer tally at the end of the first.
In addition to Jagr's multi-point night, four other Bruins recorded two points in a win that saw five goal scorers. Nathan Horton, Johnny Boychuk and Bergeron each recorded a goal and an assist. Marchand had his two scores. Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell, Milan Lucic and Torey Krug each had an assist and David Krejci extended his scoring lead with his eighth goal of the postseason to give him 20 points.
"Probably the key is our coach rolling four lines," said Jagr, when asked if this was the Boston Bruins team that he knew they would be when they hit their stride.
"All four lines were able to score goals and defend. This is our advantage. Through my experience, I've never really played on a team that all four lines can play that good. So that's a huge advantage in the playoffs."
This is Jagr's 17th postseason in the NHL.
So, with that four-line team effort, at both ends of the ice, Jagr and the Bruins are now headed back to Boston with the chance to close out the series with two home wins.
Having been through 194 playoff games, though, the veteran knows it's far from over.
"We are happy to have a 2-0 lead, nobody probably expected anything like that, except the guys in this dressing room. We want to win every game, every game we play we want to win. We were lucky enough to do it here. It's only two wins, we need two more."
"Of course, we'd like to tell you that we're happy, but we all understand that to win the series, you need four wins," Jagr said. "We all understand that, we've all been in this situation. We are all professionals, we know how tough it is to play against Pittsburgh. We know how explosive offense they can be, how many goals they can score."
"Just have to make sure we play the same way and see what happens."
For two games now, the Bruins have been able to do that. Jagr and his teammates will make sure that carries into Game Three.
"We just focus on our game. We have to plan how we wanted to play it. We just have to make sure we play our game. Once you start looking at what the other team is doing, I don't think it's a good thinking. You should always worry about yourselves first."